Grotesque Anatomy
Monday, March 08, 2004
  Street Angel #1 Review
Street Angel #1Well, after writing so much about the comic months ago, I finally got to read it.  Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca were kind enough to send me a preview copy of Street Angel #1 (due in stores this week).  Back in their CBR interview, Rugg and Maruca stated that their main goal with Street Angel was to put the fun back in comics.  They've certainly succeeded:  Street Angel is Monty Python meets Madman.  Like the British comedy troupe, Street Angel revels in off-kilter humor, such as a scene where our teenaged heroine Jesse Sanchez (aka Street Angel) infiltrates a pickup game of ninja basketball by wearing a ninja outfit that's much too big for her.  None of the bad guys notice that their teammate has suddenly shrunk and changed genders.  It sounds a bit silly on paper, but the gag works in the context of the environment Rugg and Maruca have crafted for their comic.  That environment goes by the name of Angel City, and it's reminiscent of Madman's Snap City.  It's by no means a carbon copy of that setting -- for one thing, Angel City seems a bit grittier and tougher than I ever remember Snap City being -- but Street Angel's nemesis Dr. Pangea (whose diabolical criminal plan is to reunite the earth's continents into one land mass) would probably feel at home in either city.  (Another Madman connection may be entirely in my own mind:  Does anyone else think Jesse looks like a younger, tougher version of Joe, Frank's girlfriend?)

Separated at Birth?

Street Angel has a lot more going for it than just goofy fun.  I don't want to spoil the ending, but I was surprised by the authenticity of the emotion in the final scene.  Let's just say that the creators provide insight into what may motivate Jesse into adopting such a gruff, angry exterior.  The book also benefits from some great artwork.  In an earlier post I touched on how different commentators see different artistic influences in Rugg's work, so I won't rehash the bit where I rattle off whose styles Rugg's reminds me of.  I did want to comment on Rugg's storytelling skills, though:  On my first read through the comic, I simply enjoyed the story and art.  It wasn't until I went back and re-read the comic a couple times that I noticed how Rugg's attention to detail enhanced the narrative flow.  Case in point:  In her big battle with dozens of ninjas, Jesse loses one of her shoes.  In subsequent panels, Jesse's shoe is still missing, and, what's more, it's always missing from the same foot.  This may seem like a trivial matter, but it's something you come to appreciate when other comic reading experiences are interrupted by distracting continuity gaffes.

All in all, I was really impressed with Street Angel.  The cover caught my eye when I first saw it back in the January Previews, and the solicitation copy sounded like a lot of fun.  Still, I had no idea what the actual book would be like.  And plenty of creators swear up and down that their comic will be a return to the enjoyment comics used to provide, only for the actual product to be rather dull.  Street Angel delivers the entertainment, and I look forward to following the fun in future issues. 

(For more info on Street Angel, check out this preview at Aweful Books.  There's also a new interview with Jim Rugg over at The Pulse.  And remember:  That back cover is just a gag cover parodying Jim Lee's style.)
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